The night air was cool. Fall was settling into Seattle early, it seemed. It didn't help the warehouse wasn't too far up from the ocean. He shivered slightly, tugging his collar up. Of course they weren't going to be assigning winter gear for another two weeks. His comm buzzed slightly from where it was left to hang on his belt, a man's voice coming through, “Report in.”
Nate pulled the comm off his belt and up to his mouth, “All quiet on the western front.” Around him the small alley he was set to patrol and monitor was silent as the grave.
“And what about you other two?” the man said. Henry Innes, head of security at this particular warehouse. Unlike the other heads of security Nate had had in the past, thus far he seemed like a decent sort. Sure as hell was hard to come by, as far as he had found.
Nate glanced around awkwardly even though there wasn't anyone around to be watching him for a nervous twitch, “Think they're taking their fifteen minute break.”
“At the same time?”
“Somethin' like that.”
Innes grumbled, “Well if they want a nice evening screw maybe they're better served to not be employed.”
A man of tact, as always. It was one of his respectable traits.
A woman's voice broke into the comm, an accent to it, “I have no idea what Malcolm is speaking of, sir.”
A third man broke in right after she spoke, “Got me.”
Innes gave a snort, “Of course you don't.”
Nathan Malcolm sighed, shaking his head. They would go on for sometime, back and forth with too many retorts to count. He replaced the comm on his belt, deciding it better to just look his rifle over.
Just another night at Evo's Seattle Warehouse 34B.
After about fifteen minutes, the argument was over and the status quo as usual didn't budge an inch. In the few conversations Innes and Nate had had outside of work, it was quite clear that the former really didn't see much point in it. The two were vigilant as the night was black for all but fifteen minutes of the night, and there were enough cameras to cover them for those fifteen minutes, as he put it. If he fired them he would have just had to find two more that probably would have had far less military training.
Nate had offered him a small chuckle, “That mean I'm more replaceable than them?”
Innes had shook his head, “Nah. Gotta have somebody to that can open the door to the security locker room when Mike locks us out.”
It wasn't exactly a great compliment, but it certainly gave him the impression that he had some sort of job security, even if it was as a glorified locksmith via the Matrix. Especially since Mike enjoyed locking them out, even more so on the longer hauls through the evening.
Nate had the impression that tonight was going to be one of those longer hauls. Every now and then he would shoot his watch a short look, only to see it had been all of ten minutes since the last time he had done so. Eventually an hour had passed, and then two. There were points where his head drooped slightly before it jerked back up, blinking a few times and pacing a bit to wake himself up. How he managed to even get drowsy in the chilly air surprised him.
Despite his near-naps, his rifle remained drawn, ready to fire should the need arise. “Always be prepared,” as Innes made sure to tell them all on at least a weekly, if not nightly, basis. “Because you never know when some punk Shadowrunner's gonna come around that corner and make a play on you.”
There was another near-nap coming on. He could feel it coming. Maybe he could just rest his eyes for a bit. It couldn't hurt. Just rest his eyes for a few moments, and then he'd be all rested up and ready to be fully on guard.
His comm beeped.
Nate's head jerked upward again. Nope. No no no. Now was not the time to be napping, obviously. He pulled his comm off his belt yet again, blinking as he saw the caller.
“Uh. Evenin',” he said, trying to not sound caught off guard.
The voice on the other end sounded as smooth as could be, “Hi there stranger.” He shook his head, trying to think of something to say, but she beat him to it. “What are you up to?”
“Uh,” he couldn't even think of a reason she would be calling this late, “Working. You?”
“Just sitting around. Thinking.”
“Oh yeah?” Nate asked, shaking his head. This wasn't going to go anywhere good. “What about?”
“Oh, you know. Things.”
He sighed silently. Why she had to be so vague sometimes was beyond him. “Well. That's specific.”
“Can,” she started to say, trailing off for a moment, “Can you come up here? Please?”
He took a few steps away from the building, rubbing his eyes, “Right now?” She didn't answer, and he wasn't even sure as to why he asked.
His fingers drummed nervously against his leg as the cab slowly made its way through the straights, his eyes set firmly out from the window. The driver would occasionally glance back at him in his rearview mirror, but didn't say anything. Outside the slums and lower-class neighborhoods were giving way to cleaner streets, that lacked the peddlers and things that defined less savory parts of town. Ironically, it was in this part of town that he would never actually feel comfortable, and he only came out here for one reason: Nicole Brenner.
Nate only knew her because he got shoved on the security team that was supposed to cover her when she was getting shown off by her father at some corporate event. Small talk during the event had turned into an invitation for dinner. Things had gone on from there. There had been points where he could have sworn she was the reason he still had a job, even if she had denied it every time he had brought it up.
By his count that had been maybe a year and a half ago. That seemed right to him. About a year and a half ago after he had gotten kicked off his last job for some product not making it to ship date on time. Those courses certainly paid off. All those years of telling his folks he wouldn't go into security work down the drain. He would at least give them one pro about them. The positions were plentiful.
The cab finally stopped in front of tall apartment complex. In appearance, it made the place he lived in look like a cardboard box. Maybe a bit worse than that. He paid his tab, plus a bit more, telling the driver he probably wouldn't be long.
The doorman straightened up slightly as he entered, offering him a small tip of his hat and a murmur of “Mister Malcolm.” Nate nodded in return. He should probably get that guy's name at some point so he could say something similar in return. The man in the elevator did the same, not even bothering to ask which floor he was going to.
The errant security guard watched the floor number slowly rise, tapping his foot against the carpeted floor in a steady rhythm.
“You seem a bit on edge, mister Malcolm,” the elevator man mused, hands folded behind his back. Despite the fact he was a dwarf, he didn't have much of an accent. Nate could recall Nicole having told him it had something to do with an accent not being “appealing” to the places tenants, whatever the hell that meant.
“It's nothin',” he muttered, shrugging.
The dwarf nodded in return, “I've heard that a few times, sir.”
“How many times were it truthful?”
The doors slid open slowly, and Nate stepped out. His progress down the hallway was slow and steady. Last door on the right. That was his target. Get in, hear what she wanted to say, and deal with whatever situation that presented, and get back as quickly as possible. This was obviously going to end just fine. Obviously.
Reaching the door, he brought his hand up to knock, having to take a few tries to actually bring himself to do so. Get in. Get whatever needed done done. Stick to the plan.
A minute passed before she actually opened the door. She was dressed in a shirt made of a fabric he'd likely never heard of, with pants to match, her brown hair pulled back. Nicole smiled at him, motioning inside, “Fancy seeing you here.”
He nodded slightly, stepping inside just enough for her to close the door. “Ain't staying long,” he said as firmly as he felt was safe, “Gotta be back soon enough.” That was a lie. He shouldn't have left in the first place.
She shrugged her shoulders, resting back against the wall next to the door, arms crossing, “I can make it short.”
“Just couldn't say it over a comm.”
“Nope,” she said, shaking her head. “Couldn't say it over a comm.” He didn't say anything more, resting against the wall opposite her, fingers still drumming against his leg. “So I was doing some thinking,” she started, waiting for a response. He didn't give her one. “About something you mentioned a week or two back.”
His eyebrow slowly raised as he tried to recall the things he had mentioned in the past week. Nothing particular sprang to mind besides...
“And I finally decided that yeah, I figure if there's one guy in this city I'd hitch myself to it's...”
She blinked a few times, “What?”
“You seriously mean that.”
The cab driver glanced over his shoulder as his previous customer re-entered, just like he said he would be doing. Except instead of looking like he was about ready to have a panic attack, he looked like someone had just hooked up jumper cables to his happy center.
“What the hell sorta quickie did you have in there?” the driver asked as he pulled back out onto the street.
“Then what's got you so cheery?”
“I think I just got engaged.”
“To somebody in there?”
The driver snorted, shaking his head and muttering “Lucky bastard.”
His first impression of the alley he had been supposed to have been guarding for the last half hour or so were that it was just as he left it. As he drew closer to his spot, he saw more and more why that wasn't the case. The door he was supposed to be standing in front of was off its hinges, and he had the impression that someone armed with a blowtorch had had quite the time with said hinges.
He brought his rifle up slowly, muttering into his comm, “Problems.”
Innes wasn't exactly pleased by the phrase, “Define 'problems'.”
“Forced entry, by the looks,” he muttered, slowly approaching the door, leaning to the left to peer inside.
There had to be at least four people standing inside, all working on loading one crate onto a lifter. Shadowrunners dropping in for a bit of take-out. Among them were two humans, an orc, and an elf. The orc was staring him down, armed with a shotgun, which he cocked threateningly.
“Boss,” the orc said, looking over his shoulder.
One of the humans looked up from the crate, before the other two followed suit, all eyes on the door. The first human, a man with a number of tattoos running up and down his arms gave a small hand gesture. The orc nodded, stepping forward and firing. Nate jerked back to the right, turning and pressing his back to the wall.
“Was that a gunshot?” Innes shouted out over the comm. If Nate had been trying for any form of stealth, it was now far, far out the window.
Putting the muzzle of his rifle out, Nate fired off a few rounds. The orc let out a small grunt. Based on that noise, one of the bullets might have just grazed him. Retreating further down the building, he kneeled, waiting for the orc to emerge. He never did.
Instead whatever loader the shadowrunners had managed to hijack burst through one of the nearby garage doors, leaving a nice sized hole in its place. They had even managed to squeeze the orc on there. They sped by, ignoring him as they made their way around the corner. Nate could hear a few more gunshots, probably from one of the other three, before once again, the night was silent.
They hadn't even tripped an alarm.
“When did they show up?”
Innes was standing over Nathan as he sat in the break room. The other two were dealing with the security boys that had shown up to begin an investigation.
“I don't know.”
Henry Innes shook his head, looking up at the ceiling, “How the hell can you not know.”
“'Cause I wasn't there, Henry.”
Innes's hand was firmly on his face, “Of course not. You pick one night to run off. One night to run off.”
Nate said nothing.
Henry took a seat across from him, a coffee cup clinched firmly in his hand. Nothing he could say that was nice was going to be honest, and nothing he said that wasn't nice was going to let him sleep too well.
“They're gonna fire you, Nate,” Innes finally said, settling on honesty.
“Hell. When they start looking at those tapes, they very well might just fire the other two.”
“I've been plannin' on needin' to job hunt for a hell of a lot longer than now.”
“Won't be easy.”
“What, you implying people don't like seeing 'let a robbery occur' on a guy's resume? Never would've guessed.”
Innes shook his head, “Don't get too positive on me now, kid.”
There was a knock on the break room door. Innes looked passed Nathan, frowning. Standing, he walked towards the door, patting Nate on the back as he went, “My turn up to bat with the question brigade.”
Nate nodded slowly, “Thanks. For keeping me around this long.”
Innes glanced over his shoulder, “I'd say no problem, but at the present, I'd be lying through my damn teeth.”